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tv   Book TV After Words  CSPAN  November 17, 2012 10:00pm-11:00pm EST

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finally here i am ready to start. >> you can watch this and other programs online at coming up booktv presents after wards we invite guest hosts. james patterson and the latest book the eve of direction how 1965 transformed america. ..
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>> what brought you to talk about 1965. >> i had taught history for a number of years and as we moved how to -- actually started doing this in the '60s, so i didn't teach the '60s then because it wasn't history, but later on it became an important part of my courses, and then i've written some books which talked about aspects of the '60s, and i became a little bit uncomfortable with the notion that the -- 60s can be described 1960 to 1970. historians like to do that. and sometimes is works. the are 30s you can do that because of the depression throughout the decade. mostly it doesn't work, and in
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the case of the '60s, it doesn't. if you look back what was happening in the early '6associations '62, '63, '64, at least until kennedy's assassination in 1963. so much of daily life and popular culture and music and politics and so forth, and the way people dressed and so forth, seemed very much like the are 50s, and when we think of the 60s, we think of turmoil, political polarize. >> urban riots. vietnam. rock concerts, woodstock, so forth and so on. and i became convinced you really should not talk about the '60s as 1960 to 1970, but something where the '60s start somewhere around 1965, which is what i've done. >> host: did you realize that at the time?
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did you feel your world change around you in 1965? >> guest: a little bit. i mentioned in the preface of the book that i started teaching at indiana university in september 1964. my first real job after getting my doctorate. and i was very busy preparing courses, and i also -- my wife and i had a son, december of 1964. so i was not really paying a whole lot of attention to what was going on in the world. but it became impossible, of course, and at a university campus particularly, not be aware of the tensions and divisions which were developing, and while they were not particularly severe at indiana university in 196 5 they became that way in a couple years, and they did on other campuses, especially marx with the first teach-in in march of 1965. a big ten rival of indiana. you begin to see a lot changing.
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the students begin to dress differently, begin to be much more -- some of them, at least, much more concerned with what's going on in vietnam. >> host: you saw the change take place before your eyes. let me ask you this question. even when you saw the change taking place, when did you start thinking of the '60s as history? >> guest: oh, probably not until sometime in the '9s, '8associations or '90s, i'm pretty sure it wasn't until the '8s that a significant portion of my course syllabus, which was 20th century history, included significant readings on then 1960s. so, maybe that's one answer to your question. but of course a lot of people had been talking about the '60s, even during the '60s, as the '60s.
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>> i've always been fascinated by books focused on one year. historians love to talk about change across time, that's what we like to do. we like to talk about large swaths quite often, and at least decades. you write decades, and but rarely do a year. and so there's a way in which it's kind of a closeup on the world, on american society at a given moment, 1965, and there is a way you can give us a sense of how this unfolds? in other words, how do you get to 1965? so we can better understand the terms of the conversation. how much change took place in 1965. >> guest: first, it's interesting how many books there are on individual years of the '60s, and i mention some of these in my preface. a lot of people are going to say, someone else said 1968. 1968 was a huge year.
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the tet offensive, johnson resigning, not going for another term. nixon's election, the assassination of martin luther king and bobby kennedy. the democratic party's wild convention in chicago. so, a lot of books on '68, a lot of '69, woodstock and altamont and that sort of thing. so, i'm afraid my book is by no means unique. there's also a very good book on 1964, which makes pretty much the same argument as i do, only he sets it a year earlier. i don't have any huge quarrel with that. i wouldn't say, look it, i'm the only person that's right about this. but '65 did seem to be the time, not the most dramatic. '68 probably was in terms of world-shattering memorable events. but it was a tame when the 50s and the early '60s rapidly
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vanished from -- began to vanish from view in a hurry, and the real reason is -- you'll probably ask me that but that's why. >> host: i think i pretty much agree with you that the central year, for the '60s, is 196 5. but there's something more at stake in your book. at least i think so. i want to probe on that. in a way you can either be talking about the '60s and just talking about where '65 fits into the 1960s. but there's a part of your book how 1965 transformed america. and so there is -- in that statement it seems to be you're saying that america is not the same after 1965. and that's what makes 1965 unique. so, there's something at stake that's beyond 1960s. it's -- '65 is meaningful for
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the '7s, and '8s so, and '90ss and there's another way to argue the other years were not. do you see '65 as being the watershed year for broader developments in american society? >> guest: yes, pretty much. i don't want to take it too far, because nobody would argue that something starts on january 1st and then it's all done in december, december 31st. there are a number of things about the alert '60s, for instance, where you cannot see a whole lot of things happening in 1965. for instance, the women's movement. you do have the beginnings of it in a serious way in 1965. and the feminine mystique was published in 1963, but you don't have women organizing, and now and various other groups, until later. and the same thing is true with television shows.
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and for most part movies. not until 1967 you get "the graduate" or "bonnie and clyde" and not until the early '7s you have the "all in the family" show. so television is much more in line with the '5s, shows lying bonanza and gilligan's island, and the leading shows and that didn't change you see significant changes in popular music, and you'll probably want to ask me about that. the two big changes are in civil rights and the civil rights movement, and vietnam. and those do have very lasting effects. >> host: what you seem to be suggesting is that the engine of change or engines of change, if you will, are the civil rights movement and the changes taking place within the movement, and the war itself. so that we understand the cultural transformation, a much
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broader cultural transformation. you understand the black power movement and more than just a movement but the culture transformation that takes place in the black community. you understand the culture of transformation within the white community, and you understand ultimately the cultural wars, if you will, coming oust the '60s which began in 1965. and so that seems to be what is at stake at one level. also seems to be what is at stake at another level is, all of the political strive -- strife we have had beyond the cultural war, that must be understood by reference to 1965 and the great society. so the big players in the game are indeed the civil rights movement and the lbj administration. i think of that as a third factor, the great society itself. so those are the three things and it's all related, if you will to lbj.
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so, in a sense, he, perhaps, is the most -- we would argue this -- hillary rodham clinton talked about the importance of lbj and got in trouble in 2008. but clearly he was a central player in the unfolding and transformation of american society, and so let's talk about that for a while. >> guest: absolutely. if there were a movie on this book, which there won't be, he would be the star. he, of course, takes over after the assassination in november of '63, and in '64 he is getting organized, preparing to run for election on his own, and of course he does win. he absolutely tramples barry goldwater, a huge marvin of victory, and along with him gets a huge, large democratic majority in both houses of congress. some people later on likened
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what obama did in 2008 -- obama's mandate was by no means clear and emphatic as johnson's was, and he also had a whole year, plus 15 or 14 months, to be thinking about what he would do when he was really president in his own right, after the election of '64, when he is inaugurated in 1965. and he jumps right in with this great society program, and he has had a whole series of special committees and so fort, had been studying issues, education, poverty, welfare, urban problems and so forth. task forces, and had all these reports when the congress of 1965 started. he staged the hugest inauguration ever.
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the only thing that topped it was obama's in 2009. and hits the ground running in a big way with a series of speeches and proposals and messages to congress for medicare, medicaid, elementary and secondary education act, title i, compensatory education. the creation of hud, housing and urban development. cabinet, by the way, ended up appointing the first black person, robert weaver, 1966. so, yes, the great society is -- and the passage of that, and how johnson does it, it front and center, particularly early in the book, and then a lot of things happen that don't prevent him from getting these things done, but do change the politics. so by the end of the year ronald reagan is clearly going to run for governor, as you point out
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in 1966, and does, and beats pat brown, who four years earlier had beaten nixon in the race for governor. >> host: what i always found most amaze about the great society in effect it comes out of nowhere. there's no predicate for it. we know the new deal comes out of the turmoil of the great depression. you can even argue that obamacare -- we can call it that -- obamacare comes oust the great recession. where in the world does the great society come from? i think you answer that question, and it's -- i was a kid during this period, and seven years old, in 1965, and i remember in '64, we went around the neighborhood, all-black communities, saying, we won the war of 196 4. and this was about the election of lbj. and it was a sense that
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something important happened. but one could not predict the revolution in social policy that became the great society. and your answer for all that seems to be -- it's the sheer wealth of america. is it -- cue talk about that? >> guest: yes. the economy had been growing nonstop since 1961. and it was absolutely powerful. moving ahead like a steam engine in '64 and '65, and then trouble in late '65, another sort of minor break point here, but in the early '60s, it's -- i wont wrote a book called "grand expectations" which covers in part this period. this was a time of grand expectations, or grandiose expectations, and johnson was nothing, if not grandiose. he was larger than the state of texas. this great big guy, with not
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much of a speaker but really on top of everything. people have contrasted him, for instance to obama, and usually to -- obama doesn't come out well in the condition tsa when you talk about the way johnson managed congress. he was constantly on the phone. constantly having them over to the white house. never letting it up. aware of every single committee room, and really on top of things, and clearly what he wanted to get these things done. people used to think that johnson was this kind of laid -- characteristically loud and boisterous texan and a consecutive and proponent of civil rights. but by 196 5 clearly, he was a strong liberal, and he really believed that government could do good things and he was going to get them done. >> host: so much of what has
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happened since in american society, i should say, during the late 20th century, was -- you can go to a protest, whether you're a socialist or just a liberal protest. virtually every demand would be prefaced at some point with, the wealthiest country in the world. how could this be in the wealth wealthiest coup triin the world. i think that's history. i understand that period is history. i think it's -- it would seem to be a throwaway line when people said it then. but even though it was a cliche, it was still one of the most truthful statements of the period. that everybody believed that america should be better because we're just filthy rich. so kind of set the background for all of this. now, what went wrong? what went wrong with all of
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this? your title is -- the main title is "the eve of destruction." when i first got the book, we play what's the meaning of this title. and i know a lot of the '60s songs but that is one song i didn't remember. when i was seven that wasn't what was listening to. but tell us about the title. what does "eve of destruction" mean to you? >> guest: the title, have to admit, i think is not ideal in some ways, because it leaves the impression that somehow by, let's say, early '66, the eve of destruction -- the destruction and '65 was the eve when this happened. to do that, you would have to forget the things we were just talking about, which is to say this incredible outpouring of liberal legislation that johnson
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got through. medicare. medicaid. reform of a very racist immigration law. law which went back to the 1920s. a voting rights act which not too many people thought would be able to be legislated in 1965. including johnson, because he thought it would start another huge filibuster such as had held up pass ongoing for a long time of the 1964 civil rights act. more money for the war on poverty and all these things mention. the creation of the national endowment for the arts and humanities, and the elementary and secondary education act, the first time the federal government put a lot of money into america's public schools for education. none many of these things had been on the docket for years, medicare, harry truman called for national health care.
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>> host: let's play with the title for a moment. you say 1965 is the eve of destruction. well, i'm a conservative, for the sake of the argument. to me 1965 looks like destruction itself. the eve of destruction was maybe 1964. but everything that you just talked about is -- this is the world going to hell in a hand basket. oh, yeah, there's a theory that so much -- you almost assume kind of a shared sense of something. >> guest: you've got a good point. >> host: to a lot of people, and there it is. this is '65 is destruction, the great society. this is the state run mad in 1965. this is voting rights act. and now we're about to have a federal government in the american south and in -- getting involved in elections until this
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very day. and of course, some people would have said 1965, really, blacks started voting and it wasn't that big a deal. that soon day were voting in the cities. rural areas were not that important anymore, and increasingly less important. and so had this not been done, the arc of change was such that blacks would have had their voting rights in the south. technically always had them and the south was moving towards it. so '65 itself is the great imposition of the liberal state. this is destruction. on the other hand, i can see my progressive friends saying that eve of destruction, 1965, eeve of destruction, the eve of creation, okay? this is the eve of a new world in which eventually women will have more rights. yes, indeed, there's a rights revolution, blacks and women get more rights and finally we get
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rid of the race-based immigration laws that's going to really transform america, puts together the obama coalition that we now know that includes in effect multicultural politics. so this is the eve of creation, and all we have to do is have a vietnam war to make it all work. what do you say to that? >> guest: i start the book off by giving some quotations from people like newt gingrich and george will. gingrich, conservative. and will, most people thing of as conservative. and they actually picked this year out and called it the hinge of the 20th century and that's a title of one of my chapters, and, yes, this is looked back upon as it was at the time, by consecutive conservatives, the end of the world. >> host: cannot understand the revolution without 1965. their revolution was about undoing the great society, and
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it's the success, the relative success they've have had at that lead people to want to go back further to undo other liberal programs. but it does seem to be that -- the title itself. literally what does the title mean to you when you think about in the context of 1965? i think it's important. >> guest: it really means that the relative calm and widespread optimism and high expectations that opened the year, by the end of the year, much weaker and will never again reach that stage. i start the book with an incredible statement that johnson made. while lighting the national christmas tree in december of 1964. can i read senate. >> host: -- can i read that?
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>> host: sure. >> guest: what he says here, seemed plausible to people, even though it's bombast, in a characteristic johnson way. he said, these are the most hopeful times in all the years since christ was bon in bethlehem. he added -- this is december of 1964 -- today as never before man has in his possession the capacity to end war and preserve peace. to eradicate poverty and share abundance. to overcome the diseases afflicting the human race and permit all mankind to enjoy their promise in life on this earth. he believed that that was the case, and other people, james reston of "the new york times," echoed this notion in a column of 1965.
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"time" magazine had a special issue titled "on the verge of a golden era." all of these, late '64, early '65. in january 1965 we were not supposedly engaged in combat in vietnam. in 1965, you already had passed the 1964 civil rights act. the most important single act, i think, in 20th century american history. >> host: i think it's the 1965 act. >> guest: and then you had the war on poverty, which started in 1964. and it just seemed that -- if you're a liberal, and you are aware of all of the problems in the country, here we're finally going to deal with it. you mentioned the prosperity. this was terribly important because it made people confident not only that they could go about their daily lives and they would be better off every year, children would be better off than they were, but that the
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country, the government, would be able to raise the revenue to pay for these programs. so, it's a very unusual reform period in american history. so many of them, like in the 30s, for instance, and to some extent progressives coming out of bad times when you went to do something, got to do something, and this time you didn't necessarily have to do something. as i say, many of the things were done had been on the agenda of liberals for a long time. and so they aren't destroyed. that's just -- eve of destruction really doesn't fit that part of it very much because johnson gets most of these things through. what really makes this title useful, i think, has to do with, what happens to the civil rights movement and what happens in american foreign policy. to the extent that the destruction -- >> host: to the extent the destruction is a result of the things lbj did and did not do, how do you -- i admire how you
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unfold that story with kind of economy of words. people have killed a lot of trees off that but it is still important for us to understand that -- you make it clear too a degree i had never really thought about it -- it was really in 1965 that if johnson had handled the war differently in 1965, that maybe things would have been much different. the '60s as we know them may not have happened. talk about that. it's fascinating to me. >> guest: it's always easy to look back upon what a president does when he gets into something that is awful as vietnam. you want to look back and try to find out, was there a point where we could have gotten out of this and avoided it? and i think 1965 was the time when he bit the bullet several times on this issue and got
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himself by the summer of 1965, and got the country by the summer of 1965, so heavily involved in combat in vietnam, that there was simply no getting out of it. in fact, johnson himself knew this. he knew -- this is one of the really tragic things about this. he knew when he escalated the war that the united states and south vietnam were not going to win it. >> host: yes. >> guest: they were not going to defeat north vietnam. they were not gene do invade north vietnam. what they were going to do if they could is preserve the independence of south vietnam. and that's most they could hope for, and weren't even sure about that. so, it was in 1965 he bites the bullet in december of -- january 1, 1965, the united states has around 23,000 troops -- >> host: advisers. >> guest: yes, called military advisers.
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this is about 7,000 more than the 16 or 17,000 that were there in november 1963 when kennedy was assassinated. so in the space of a year, he's increased this from 16 or 17,000 to 23,000. this is a considerable percentage increase but not a lot of people. they're supposedly not in come -- combat. the only combat that allegedly occurred was the gulf of tonkin crisis in august of 1964 when johnson retaliate by bombing north vietnamese installations but that leased only -- lasted only two days, and then during the campaign he acted as if he were the reasonable moderate on vietnam, which was easy to do since goldwater was very much of hawk on the issue and wanted to
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escalate. so he is anything -- inaugurated in january of 1965. on february 7th there's a raid by viet cong in the northern part of the country of south vietnam, and some americans are killed in their beds, and early in the morning, and he uses this as a pretext to retaliate with bombing of north vietnam. and that bombing then escalates, becomes a rolling thunder within a month, and we're off and running. agent orange, the whole bit. that bombing starts in early 1965. in march of 1965, because general westmoreland in vietnam is saying that the americans around the air bases from which these raids are taking place on north vietnam, need protection. they're being attacked by viet cong. you have to send troops over.
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so, johnson sends in some marines in early march. actually on the same day as bloody sunday in early march. so that's the beginning of it. then there's another huge escalation in july of 1965. so you go from 23,000, supposedly noncombat troops -- although some of them had been in combat and small numbers were being killed. by and large they're not. at the end of the year it's 184,000. 184,000. >> host: was johnson responsible for everything? but west moreland, also gives a sense that westmoreland made a bad decision based upon his understanding of warfare that he couldn't quite conceive -- another way of putting this is, when they were alive, when lbj and west moreland were alive, the south vietnamese could not stand up on their own.
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they could have made a decision -- that's what always think back -- when they realize this government was going to fall. >> guest: it did several times. >> host: it was not going over to stand up on its own. that seems to be the flaw -- the real flaw in the decisionmaking process. about face at that point for america at some level. and you're invested, but yet you're propping up someone. there's a way in which i thought it was much later but you're making fairly clear they understood this in 1965 they were propping up a weak regime. >> guest: they knew they weren't going to win. >> host: a different decision, and then it strikes me because there's something that we don't talk about much anymore, which, of course, is all the rage in the 1960s and the '7s when people talked about it, guns versus butter. we don't talk about the world. we could talk about our current
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crisis this way. guns versus butter. seems to be more of a consensus how we rage and do domestic and international affairs and foreign affairs. so, we now believe that you always have guns, okay? even at the expense of butter. but that's -- back then it was almost an understanding you could have gun0s butter and most people wanted the butter. there was always a strong national defense but we have to point out it wasn't the conservatives that got abuse the vietnam war. so there's a way in which everybody was happy in america that was just milk and butter, and then johnson invests in guns. he goes off to war. >> guest: i spend a lot of time trying to explain why he did this, because, as you describe it, it sounds crazy. johnson, like kennedy, like eisenhower, like truman --
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forget about johnson -- from truman, eisenhower and kennedy, all three presidents, were on record as was the majority of the congress, of saying that the united states, the head of the free world, in what was sill still a very strong cold war climate. the bay of pigs happened just before that in 1962 -- the united states had the responsibility to protect the independence of nations from communist aggression. this meant south vietnam. now, kennedy had raised troop levels. i won't go into all the things that truman and eisenhower did, but right along we are very heavily involved in protecting south vietnam, and johnson believed that these prior commitments committed him. he also was a strong colored warrior. he used to comment often on how the young people who were protesting simply didn't
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understand communism because they had never really grown up and had to fight world war ii, didn't know what amazement meant automenment, and chamberlain and so forth, give into the nazis. the united states must keep it commitments. it must be strong it was johnson's great misfort tune to have to fish or cut bait. >> host: everybody subscribes to the domino theory. i was a very good cold warrior but never bought the domino theory. this is the big flaw. this is america thinking that you put up a solid wall, and not just a united front but your method is just brook no opposition on these issues, and let them not have one inch or they'll take it all.
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aand apiecement is what it is called. as opposed to a strategy to defeat the opposition as opposed to be a perpetual cold war and hot war, divide and conquer. i've always understood it as divide and conquer, baby, that's how we deal with the opposition. so johnson is san diego effect -- even eisenhower, had he been in office, might have felt compelled at a certain moment to invest more -- >> guest: can't be sure. can't be sure. >> host: but clearly with the domino theory in play, there's a likelihood everybody would at least have felt aing to go deeper into vietnam. >> guest: johnson very much feared if he allowed south vietnam to fall to the north, and it was swallowed up and became part of a communist country, he would suffer the same fate -- said this often --
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that truman suffered are in people like mick mr. cack the that said that the united states, quote, lost china, as ifs, of course, it was ours to lose. but this was very fresh in the memory of some of mike johnson, who had been in the congress since 1937, and was majority leader in the early '50s when the first minority and then majority leader of the senate during the heyday of mccarthyism, and he saw what this did the dem track party and what it did to truman and didn't want tote happen to him. so a combination of good politics and he felt he had no choice but to do it. said that all the time. he had no exit strategy. >> host: a couple of things in the book about this point that kind of struck me. i didn't realize that richard russell was really reluctant -- did not want to go deeper into
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vietnam. so there was support among people who had impeccable foreign policy credentials to not go further so he would have -- >> guest: he was the head of the senate committee. >> host: some significant support so it was still johnson's decision to make. he could have done something different. on the other side of this, i'm still struck by how johnson was well aware -- i mean, as a master politician -- there's a relationship between guns and butter. okay? that even though this is a wealthy nation, we cannot run up deficits of a certain sort, and so we still have to move forward with a sound economic footing and that we're going to have consequences for his domestic program. even johnson, most liberal of any american administration, was very clear on this, that you just could not spend limitlessly, and he knew that this war was going to impinge on
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his domestic agenda, and virtually everybody knew this. this was well understood. >> guest: it did. starting -- didn't really affect spending that much in 1965. i don't want to maintain that '65 was the worst year of the war. >> host: no. no. not the worst year. >> guest: not all that many americans died in 1965. something like 1800 died in 1965. and as i say, went from 1 -- from 23,000 to 184,000 in 1965. and then 400,000 in 1966, which was a terrible year, and up to 550,000 at the time johnson leaves office in early 1969. so, even that is not enough to win the war. >> host: right. no winning that war. that's fairly clear. what also strikes me as interesting is that we think of the war opposition as starting with students. and there's a way in which there's if there's no war -- we say if that's no student
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movement, there's no opposition to the war. what is also striking in your book is how there was a kind of opposition to the war among the chattering classes, the professors and even people in business. this war had an opposition from the establishment from the very beginning. >> guest: well, actually, i don't make much of that. it is true that there were a lot of professors, very much engaged in the teach-in movement, for instance, and having been on a college campus i can attest to that. but actually what is striking about '65 is virtually all the public opinion polls, depending how you ask the question, do show support for johnson's escalation, and it's not until '66 and later on that it really becomes difficult, and one can write a book on '66 in terms of
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what was going on in vietnam and what was going on with the federal budget. this was much more consequential than in 1965. '65 is when it starts and objects you're in there, it just gets deeper. that's what i mean the eve of destruction. after that nothing is the same. >> host: lbj is not in control of everything. unfortunately. every president longs but there are limits to power. people don't just do what you want them to do. so there's -- so much is going on in this society, even before the war. now, you have two challenges taking place. the great society is sitting in the middle of this vietnam. on the other side is the black movement that you spend much time talking about. on the other side is the response of the students to the war. and '635 is this -- 65 is this
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year. there's way in which you look at what happens early in the year. malcolm x assassinated. then selma, ask then, of course, what we have not mentioned yet is in august you have the watts riot. and so here these big developments are taking place, and in your mind, you seem to give a most equal weight, if you will to the unfolding of the '60s with what's going on in civil rights, and the way you almost set this up, though -- i wonder about this -- you almost through a consensus historian take on the civil rights movement. if i were a southern white, i would say that the eve of destruction was eve of '54, '57, or '64. if you will. >> guest: okay.
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it. >> host: it was when it comes to civil rights, 1965. that may be their perspective. let's talk about that for a second. as kind of a criticism, you almost assume we're all on board with civil rights in '64, or at least it could be managed. at least that much you seem to be saying. >> guest: yes. i'd say '64, is a mentioned before, as a year of enormous strides in the civil rights movement. i wrote a book on brown vs. board case, you mentioned 1954. and as you know, and everybody knows, this was supposed to bring about an end to racial segregation in the public schools. in 1964, virtually no black kids were going school with whites in the deep south, or even in the boring south. so in ten years the supreme court -- unanimous supreme court decision had virtually no effect. what had an effect is all of the civil rights activism of the earlier '60s, and early
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'50s. you mentioned '57, the little rock crisis in '61, the freedom riots, '62, ole miss. '63, bermingham and so forth. and leads up -- this activism on the streets was necessary, as was brown vs. board -- necessary but not sufficient. so, bringing these two things together from the bottom up and from the tom down and then you get this immensely civil rights act passed in 1964, and this was a wonderful thing. everybody was cheering. we knew there was more to be done. voting rights, for instance. i would say, yes, this is my take on it. you do have a lot of problems in '64. things are getting really nasty and people are getting killed. three people in philadelphia and mississippi getting murdered and churches bombed and so forth and
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so on. so, nobody can read this book and conclude that it wasn't violence going on in '64. there was. but there was definitely a sense that, you know, we are really making progress, we're really making gains. and then, on the very first day of the year, martin luther king opens up his drive in selma, and that takes up a good chapter early in the book. i think most people know the story, but you have this bloody sunday when the troopers and the police beat up people, including john lewis, and send a lot of people the hospital and it's all on television, and johnson goes on tv and says, we shall overcome and comes out with the voting rights act which later in the session passes. you earlier said that's even more important than the '64 act. however, during the course of the selma thing, splits that
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already existed within the civil rights movement, which should be regarded as movements -- were already there. in fact, smith, a student on nonviolent cord night commit year, which was already working on voting rights, resented martin luther king coming in and taking credit and they wouldn't work with him. and when the summer was over there was no meeting of the minds. so you begin to see a split within the civil rights movement that is pretty irreparable. >> host: let me play devil's advocate on this. and there are a lot of people who talk about the black freedom movement, and they see that movement, whether it's in terms ofsive rights or civil rights and black power -- need to say social and political influence on society -- they see it has
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something that has the gal. others might say, you're right, 1965, by that time, you have both civil rights and voting rights. let's move on. not everyone will be happy. but then something happens. in other words, i don't necessarily think that the split in the civil rights movement is inherently important. in selma, it still leads to the voting rights act. not important in terms of the divisions among the sclc. a boy, wattses, the black world changes with watts in a way that -- of course in '64 there are riots in philadelphia, riot in harlem, and they seem to mean something, but, boy, watts is different. >> guest: it was. terrible. >> host: and so it's not even the sheer violence of it. i think a lot of it has to do with -- i think people were more
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shocked by the riot in california. the riot in l.a. tell us about that. how does it really change the black movement? or just the way people perceive civil rights? i guess another way of putting it. what does it do to black community, to white liberalism. what happens with watts? >> guest: to white liberalism, what it does is -- a number of white liberals were shoulder-to-shoulder with blacks in the south, some were killed. after watts a lot of them sat back and said, hmm, these guys, they're not christ like nonviolent civil rights people. they're hoodlums. they're burning -- burn, baby, burn, they're bad people, fighting the police, and burning down buildings. and so this sort of makes a lot of white people cautious and not
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really sure what is happening here. and they don't like what they see. i'm not a saying that they give up on freedom struggle. johnson doesn't give up on in the freedom struggle. he continues to try to get legislation after this. although initially he is staggered by this how much could this happen? he had done more than any president by far for civil rights and it happened under his watch. and he was really shaken by this, but he got over that but a lot of other whites were uncertain. even johnson realized he made this enormously powerful speech at howard university, at the commencement in june, written by daniel moynihan, which he basically call -- doesn't call it bit that name but affirmative action in order to help black people. they have special needs. need special policy. can't be color blind. he calls a press conference.
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and everything gets reinterpreted. >> host: johnson pure of motive and the blacks are not pure in the eyes of writes and whites are not pure in the leadership of the black community. and then you get a rising leadership, and malcolm x dies in february. but the heirs to malcolm x don't seem to get traction until watts. i mean, watts makes everyone rethink everybody. makes some people think there's a black revolution threat going to overthrow the united states government. so, watts gets people really thinking. so, to my mind, there's way in which i can say, wowrks '65 is important, a lot going on. the great society, the vietnam war. that's important. burt, gee, the destruction really starts in two places. watts -- okay -- and then in the other place we haven't mentioned yet, the students for democratic
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society and how they're transformed by the war. i mean, you make a pretty good case that until the escalation, sds is really a smalltime operation. >> guest: it's not even big until the end of '65 but it's getting there. >> host: now, let's be provocative. we only have a few minutes left. let's play with this and be more provocative in a way. if there had been a professional military, no draft, in 1963, with the '60s as you know it had taken place? >> guest: yes. yes. >> host: that is the very reason i would argue we ended the draft. right? >> guest: yeah. >> host: that we have a professional army. we do not want the citizenry to decide which war you should fight because you might mobilize
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an opposition it to. let me ask you. in '63, had we had a professional army, it would have been different? would the '60s have happened? >> guest: let's assume that once vietnam starts, we still don't have a draft. i mean, might have forced the draft into being. but obviously what you're saying is -- can't ignore it very probably. a lot would have been different because sds -- many of its leaders had a rat -- radical notion of the country. they weren't just opposed to the vietnam war, although that was the number one issue. before they were divided about what they wanted to do. many of them still thought we should worry about poverty first. by '65 it's an antiwar organization. but a lot of people are antiwar without being radical. they just said, this is a bad war, and we don't want to be drafted. but radicals had a notion that
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the fact that the united states was in this bar and in so many other wars, was a sign of the greed of capitalism and the inevitable areas of inequality that exist in the country, and we have to fundamentally reshape the nature of the country. but not too many people bought into that. most of the antiwar protests were by people who were opposed to the war, and didn't want to get drafted. so, your counterfactual question makes you think, makes you think. >> host: now, it is the -- can't go so far with a counterfactual. it would have been hard to imagine where they would have got a half million soldiers in a booming economy, okay? but again, we did have an urban crisis, and perhaps there were more people around who might have been susceptible to
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enticements. they were susceptible in the 1970s when the economy wasn't have gone so well. i don't know if they could have built an army as quickly. but clearly, the war and the -- the war growing opposition -- the opposition was based largely on the draft. in other words, do you accept that kind of proposition that, without that draft, sds may have had a leadership that was concerned about some issues and -- but they're kind of mass following they seemed to have had for several years. was it just tied to people's immediate self-interest? >> guest: certainly overwhelmingly antiwar, and as i say, some of the people in sds and some of the antiwar people, john lewis, for instance, and others, were -- james farmer, the head of corps, martin luther king, in various ways pacifists,
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opposed to all wars of opposed to violence. so, they were consistent. it wasn't just vietnam. but others -- most of them it was, this was a bad war. >> host: now, there's a culture transformation as we talked about earlier, that takes place and that's the hardest transition i have to find. i know that by '66 or '67 certain things are going to happen with music. ey wi know what's going to happen with the war. but the change does seem to take place by the end of '65. in other words, is it the war? is it the escalation of the war that leads to the song "eve of destruction"? is it a war-driven -- in other words, is it the escalation? >> guest: well, you're right, it was that song, and it talked about selma, talked about race, talked about nuclear weapons and
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talked about vietnam, and it had -- a loud soundtrack with guns booming, hit the top half the hit parade in september of 1965 and was a popular song throughout the end of the year, and it was one of the very first songs, popular songs, which was both antiwar and popular. and if you listen to it, it's hard to see why. not much of a song. and has a nice easy beat. and it's words are strong and it's loud and it's assertive about the whole damn crazy world coming apart, and essentially the apocalypse here, and that's appealed to a lot of young people. >> host: seems the cultural transformation was as rapid as the escalation of the war. it's amazing. it's true, music changes
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somewhere between '64 and '66. okay? within that time period, music changes and black music, rock n roll changes so it all changes in that time period and it seems to be related once again to both the change in the civil rights movement, from the civil rights movement to a black power movement, change from, if you will, folk music, to rock 'n' roll, and it's kind of being pushed -- we say folk music being tied to any notion of social conscience. >> guest: folk rock. >> host: and then the change in sound, antiwar sound. so you see it there. and it happens with the war. to me there's a way i'm willing to concede if i had to choose one year, okay, to say, the most pivotal near in the 1960s, and i dare say -- and i think you make the case -- well, you don't really want to make the case but for the broader political
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structure of politics, in other words, democrat versus republican, all coming out of the great society and response the great society. so you make a great case for 1965. >> guest: i want to say one other thing about the music. it's so nice if everything lines up nicely for an historian. but at the very time you had eve of destruction becoming a popular song you also had in early 66 the ballad of the green per ray -- berets, which is very strong prowar song based upon the book, the greenber raise, which was a very popular book. so i'm trying to say things are changing drastic through but there are exceptions. >> host: we have run out of time but i would like too talk about the similarity of the songs. thanks a lot. been a very interesting book, grabs the reader. i think a lot of people will
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enjoy it and it's apropos given where we are now with obamacare and what the liberal, asend den sis -- seems to be a shift taking place. thank you. >> guest: uh-huh. >> that was "after words," book tv's signature program in which authors are interviewed by journalist, public policymakers, legislators and others familiar with their material. "after words" airs at 10:00 p.m. on saturday, 12:00 and 9:00 p.m. on sunday and 12:00 a.m. on monday. you can also watch "after words" online. go to and click on "after words" in in the book tv topics list on the right side of the page. >> book tv is on facebook. like us. to enter act withoo


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